North East Connected

Council initiative gives Durham families free chance to be part of world first with Paula Radcliffe

County Durham families have been given the chance to be inspired by marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe when they take part in a brand-new running initiative later this week.  Durham County Council and Events of the North, organisers of the Durham City Run Festival, have teamed up to offer a number of free places for the global debut of Paula’s Families on Track initiative, in a bid to encourage people of all ages and abilities to engage in physical activity.

Families on Track is the brainchild of athletics superstar Paula Radcliffe and is designed to offer families the chance to enjoy a safe, fun and competitive event together. The new event is set to be one of the highlights of the first Durham City Run Festival, which will take over the city centre from 25-27 July.  Durham County Council’s culture, sport and tourism team has offered free places to several families to take part in the event on Saturday 27 July, as part of its ongoing work to inspire more people to lead active lifestyles.  During the event, each family team will work together to complete a total distance of 10k in continuous relay laps of 1000m, 500m and 250m.

Paula’s Families on Track, which is being sponsored by Atom Bank, is set to make its global debut on the final day of the Durham City Run Festival, and will take place at Durham University’s enclosed site on the old racecourses.

The Thompson family from Ouston is just one of the families selected by Durham County Council, from those who volunteer at, or take part in, its various fitness programmes. 45-year-old Emma, a school attendance officer, is a volunteer running leader for Durham County Council’s Couch to 5k programme and for the Riverside Striders. She will be running Families on Track alongside her 56-year-old husband Iain, a service delivery manager for BT, who was motivated to start running last year as a result of health issues brought on by being overweight and inactive. They will be joined by 12-year-old son Andrew and nine-year-old daughter Millie.

Emma comments: “Families on Track is a great idea to encourage the whole family to get fit and active together in a secure environment and it’s great that the first ever event is going to be held here in Durham. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope that it will help my son, Andrew, who has autism, to feel more comfortable running with other people.”

Iain adds: “It’s a great way of promoting the importance of exercise to people of all ages and abilities. Since completing the Couch to 5k programme and have continued running and have seen my health and fitness improve, so much so I have entered the GNR this year.”

Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “We’re all really looking forward to the Durham City Run Festival including the world-first of Paula’s amazing Families on Track concept.

“This exciting new event is a great opportunity for mums, dads, brothers and sisters to have fun together as a family unit, while also getting some exercise.

“We are very pleased to have been able to team up with Events of the North to offer some free places as part of our commitment to inspiring people to lead active lifestyles.”

During the Families on Track event, each family must complete their 10k target in any combination of laps (e.g. 6 x 1,000m, 5 x 500m and 6 x 250m = 10K).  Each leg is completed by an individual who then hands over to another family member for the next leg.  Families can run in any order and run legs of any distance, as long as they complete 10k.  A family group can be three, four or five people, of which at least one must be under 16 and at least one over 18, with every participant completing at least one lap.  Team entry costs £40 and includes a medal, t-shirt, goody bag and chip timing for all team members.

The Durham City Run Festival will take over the centre of Durham and the Gala Theatre between Thursday 25 and Saturday 27 July and will feature films, talks, book signings, a running expo, free running activities, a new mile challenge called ‘Run Like a Legend’, and the well-established Prince Bishops 5k and 10k runs.  Places at all of the paid for events at the Durham City Run Festival can be booked at  The website includes a full programme of festival events that can be downloaded onto a laptop or mobile device.

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